By: Julie M. Kahn, ND, LAc

For over 3,000 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine has promoted specialized treatment for women in pregnancy care and postpartum recovery. Today this care is becoming increasingly popular and used by obstetrical acupuncturists.

Pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal recovery are viewed in traditional Chinese medicine as a window of opportunity to enhance the womanÂ’s well being. Value is placed on promoting preventative care to strengthen the mother and baby as well as dealing with problems as they occur during pregnancy. Acupuncture can be used in a variety of ways to promote fetal and maternal health.

Acupuncture is helpful to address: nausea during pregnancy, musculoskeletal pain, hypertension, heartburn, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, breech and posterior babies, labor preparation, induction and pain relief during labor.

Pre-birth acupuncture treatment involves a series of four treatments weekly from 36 or 37 weeks to prepare for labor. Points are used according a woman’s constitution and pregnancy history. These include points to ripen the cervix, to help position the baby in the best presentation for labor and to promote optimal energy and stamina for women to enter into labor. Research confirms that pre-birth acupuncture reduces induction, epidural and caesarean section rates. It does not cause any increase in early labor.

Acupressure is extremely useful during labor and delivery to help with pain management. It can be taught to partners to be used in all stages of labor and can be combined with any other breathing or meditative techniques. Women who use acupuncture consistently report a reduction in their pain combined with an overall sense of calmness and a high level of satisfaction with their birth experience.

The benefits of post partum acupuncture cannot be forgotten. Although it is natural to direct the focus to the new baby, it is equally important to support the mother through the post partum period. Chinese Medicine helps the mother recover and thrive during this time. Be sure to inquire about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can support you along your journey.

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